The JAF Winter Seminar in Orvieto combines the Great Books, Socratic approach of Gordon College’s Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) honors program with the emphasis of the Gordon IN Orvieto semester program of experiencing art, architecture, and literature in their original settings. Students earn 4 credits. The program is also open to adult learners without registering for academic credit, whether or not they are affiliated with Gordon College.
DECEMBER 31, 2017 – JANUARY 13, 2018
What is a Good Life? Explorations in Medieval and Renaissance Thought and Art
This JAF291 Seminar will take as its theme moral inquiry in the classical and Christian traditions, with a focus on their co-mingling in late medieval and early modern Europe (ca. 1300-1600). Students will have an opportunity to read various classical authors, particularly Aristotle and Cicero, and then later medieval/Renaissance authors such as Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Pico della Mirandola, and Erasmus. Some key questions that will be explored include (but are not limited to): What is a good life? What is a good society? What is virtue and how does one acquire it? What is vice and how can one avoid it? What is the relationship between the pursuit of virtue and the pursuit of salvation? What is the relationship between individual virtue and public/social responsibility? We shall also ask to what extent early-modern moral philosophy might still be relevant to church, society, and government today. In addition to readings and discussions, field trips will be taken within the city of Orvieto and to Rome, Siena, and Florence. Throughout, we shall attempt to make connections between the writings discussed and on-site art and architecture.
From our base in Orvieto, we will have ready access to dozens of examples of the formal expression of musical principles in the visual arts and architecture of medieval and Renaissance European culture.
We are thrilled to announce that the instructor of the 2018 JAF Winter Seminar will be Dr. Tal Howard, former director of CFI and founder of the “Jerusalem & Athens Forum” and now professor of humanities and history at Valparaiso University, and holder of the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics.
Location and Lodging
The JAF Winter Seminar takes advantage of the Studio for Art, Faith & History’s spectacular location in the cliff-top town of Orvieto (Italy), situated in the Umbrian countryside between Florence and Rome. Participants will sojourn in the recently-renovated thirteenth-century monastery that serves as the home of Gordon College’s arts-oriented semester program. The nine double rooms in the residential wing come with private baths. The library-classroom is bright and airy. Our private chef Maria takes pride in presenting the best of Umbrian cuisine.
For more photographs and details, click here.
Days in Orvieto with lectures and discussion and local visits will alternate with excursion days to Florence, Siena, and Rome.
Included in the Cost
Round-trip airfare from Boston and all ground transportation in Italy; lodging (in double rooms with baths); all meals (except for Sunday); all entrance fees.
All applications are due by October 22, 2017
Students: $3,500 (includes 4 credits tuition); $30 application fee due October 22; $450 non-refundable deposit due October 31; remaining $3,050 billed to student account
Adult Learners: $2,500; No application fee; $500 non-refundable deposit due by October 22; remaining $2,000 due by November 15
Dr. Tal Howard
Before taking up his present post as Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University, Dr. Thomas Albert “Tal” Howard was Professor of History at Gordon College (specialist in modern European history), director of the Center for Faith & Inquiry, and founding director of the Jerusalem & Athens Forum honors program.
The JAF291 Winter Seminar in Orvieto (a place beloved by the Howard family after several teaching stints in the Gordon IN Orvieto semester program by both Tal and Agnes Howard) is the product of brainstorming between Dr. Howard and Dr. Skillen, director of the Studio for Art, Faith & History. Tal was the lead teacher of the 2016 JAF291 seminar.
No one is better equipped to guide us through the question raised in the 2018 version of JAF291: “What is a Good Life?: Explorations in Medieval and Renaissance Thought and Art.”
Dr. Howard is the author of many essays (such as one on the virtue of “Prudence and Historical Inquiry”) and books, among them: Imago Dei: Human Dignity in Ecumenical Perspective, God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide, The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue (edited with Mark Noll), and Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meanings of Protestantism. Sought after as a lecturer, Dr. Howard recently returned to the Gordon campus as the keynote speaker for the May 2017 Symposium, whose theme responded to the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
Dr. John Skillen
Dr. John Skillen (Ph.D. Medieval and Renaissance studies, Duke University) is the director of the Studio for Art, Faith, and History at Gordon College, and senior advisor to the Global Education Offfice. He was the medieval and Renaissance specialist in the English department before inaugurating the Gordon IN Orvieto semester program in 1998. Professor Skillen's interests are broadly in the arts and cultural history, and the renewed relevance of moments in early European culture for the conditions of our present, themes exemplified in his recent book, Putting Art (back) in its Place (2016).